Posted in books, guest article, writing

Interview with the Author: The Second Time Around with LynDee Walker


I know you’re all looking forward to LynDee Walker’s latest installment of the Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mysteries, but you have to wait just a wee bit longer.  I didn’t have to–bragging.

I already know how it ends.  Ha!  You're going to love it.
I already know how it ends. Ha! You’re going to love it.

However, as much as I have enjoyed my Advanced Reader Copy of BURIED LEADS, I can’t tell you what happens.  I can tell you that LynDee’s series is only getting stronger, and I asked if she would come talk to us about what it’s like the second time around.

Q:  So, LynDee, what differs from the release of your first book to your second?

A:  Not much, that I can see, except I have readers who know who I am. The first time, I was really nobody from nowhere. I wondered what kind of reception Nichelle would get from readers, but it was all theoretical, because no one had ever heard of either of us.

This time, there are people who read Front Page Fatality and really enjoyed it, and they’re waiting for Buried Leads to launch. It’s a little wild for me to wrap my head around the fact that there’s even one reader who’s not in my immediate circle who is waiting for my book to launch. And it’s really cool.

She looks good with a Sharpie!  LynDee signing books for her fans.
She looks good with a Sharpie! LynDee signing books for her fans.  She might have been new with Front Page Fatality, but now she’s got masses of adoring readers.

 

Q:  What do you know, going into the second release, that you wish you’d known with the first?

A:  That an author can only do so much. I’m a control freak, and I planned everything and booked blogs months in advance. And don’t get me wrong, it helps. A lot. And I think as an author you have to put that effort in (and I am doing it for Buried Leads, though I do have a tour organizer and my fantabulous Henery Press marketing folks taking care of a lot of the blog tour stuff this time). But you have to understand that you can write guest blog posts until your fingers fall off and it will not magically make you JK Rowling.

In the end, the very best thing that can happen is that you do the work, and then the retailers decide to help you.

 

Q:  What role does your editor play in getting your book shelf-ready?

A:  Oh, I could go on forever about this. But I won’t, because my editor would  slap my hand. I am blessed to have an editor who really gets Nichelle and understands what I want my stories to be. That is so, so important in this business.

She is brilliant and very good at her job, and she sees things in the books that don’t come across the way I intended and offers suggestions to make them better. But she listens to me. If I say, “wait, that’s important later,” or “I adore that character, how can I keep him?” she brainstorms with me and we figure it out together. I love the feeling of teamwork, and knowing that she cares about my career.

And all that “tightly written, fast-paced” praise I get? That’d be because my editor is a master of trimming and speeding the story without losing anything. One of the things I love most about working with her is that she’s teaching me to be a better writer.

Here we are with LynDee's poster.  And you thought the cover art was cute on its own?  I want my LIFE to look like this poster.
The most fun of book releases is meeting people, LynDee says.

 

Q:  Now that you are releasing book 2, writing book 3, and are involved in a couple of other Nichelle mini-novels, what advice would you give writers who are looking for the big break?

A:  Why, Miss Lane, I think we had this discussion very recently, didn’t we? [Yes!  Which is why I want TOL readers to hear it from you! Lane] Here it is, y’all, as crazy as it sounds: enjoy writing just for the love of writing. It should always be true, in my opinion, but it’s easy for that to get lost in the pressure of deadlines and edits and marketing after you have a contract (or three). I owe my friend Gretchen McNeil thanks for telling me that about a year before Front Page sold, and now I have paid it forward. Your days of editors and deadlines and reviews will come in their own time. If you’re a writer, it’s part of who you are. Take joy in sitting down and creating.

 

Q:  Tell us about the audio books.

A: *Squeals* That was the most amazing thing yet! I think. Maybe tied with that amazon #1. But really: an actress (no, I do not know who yet) is going to read my books out loud. Holy crow. All I really know about it right now is that the rights to both Front Page and Buried Leads have sold, and as the production process moves along, we’ll have more information on the narrator and release dates.

 

Q:   What is the most fun part of the book release?

A:  Meeting people. Getting to know different folks was always my favorite part of being a reporter, and whether it’s online or at a signing, meeting people—readers, other authors, bloggers, booksellers—is my favorite part of this, too.

lyndee reads

Q:  Tell us where your release is going to happen, and why that is awesome.

A:  It IS awesome! The Buried Leads launch party is part of this year’s Virginia Literary Festival! I am just over the moon about this opportunity. The people who organize the festival are amazing, and it’s such a great event. And and AND, we’re launching this book at the Library of Virginia, which is a breathtaking building that houses the state’s most important historical document collections. In Virginia, that’s some pretty amazing stuff. Nichelle would be honored to be so close to that much history.

Thank you so much for stopping by to chat, LynDee.  I know everyone is very excited to get Buried Leads.  It is available for pre-order now.

 

Posted in books, Career, Friends of Mine, guest article, Interview

Interview with the Editor: Kendel Flaum of Henery Press


LynDee Walker’s new book, Buried Leads, is due out in October.  I am very excited to start talking about it, but you’re going to have to wait just a little longer–ee!  Meanwhile, I had the great pleasure of meeting LynDee’s editor, Kendel Flaum, and thought you’d enjoy hearing from her.  As the managing editor of Henery Press, she has great insight and is, of course, very interesting.

But don’t just take my word for it.  This is Kendel’s bio:

Kendel Flaum is a Southern California native who now parks her flip flops in Dallas, Texas. Deciding to combine her fifteen years of entrepreneurial savvy and over a decade of designing, writing, and editorial experience, she launched Henery Press, an independent publishing house focused on mystery and suspense. As managing editor, she’s always looking for captivating stories — from cozies and crime capers to paranormals and PIs. She’s got a coop full of award-winners and nominees in the Hen House, and just loves finding a gem in the slush pile.

LYNN-pic

Henery Press is an independent publisher in the mystery/suspense genre focused on engaging stories with sharp twists and lively characters. We want every reader to enjoy a captivating story written by a talented author wrapped in a pretty package.

Q)  I love the story of how Henery Press came to be.  Will you please tell it for our audience?

Let me nutshell it for your readers: It started from a love of writing. Which led me to an amazing organization, Sisters in Crime, and its upstart sub-chapter, the Guppies. I met my mentor there, I met my bff there, and I met 500+ mystery writers looking to be published there. After several years, Diane Vallere, the aforementioned bff, and I decided to create a sub-chapter of the Guppies called called Press Quest where we’d spearhead the efforts to compile information on every mid-to-small-to boutique press open to mystery writers. We researched until our fingers cramped – we detailed lists, facts, databases, interviews, websites, and on-the-ground commentary.

Some of that commentary proved scary: contracts that fell apart, offers to publish in weeks (weeks! oy.), cringe-worthy covers, non-existent support. After years of being in the trenches, writing, editing, designing, I decided there had to be a better way. One with a chicken at the helm. (Side note: In a previous life, I spent over fifteen years building a completely separate business from dollar one into a multi-million dollar company, so I knew what it would take.)

That’s some nutshell.

 

Henery: Where it happens.  And by "it", I mean "great fun."
Henery: Where it happens. And by “it”, I mean “great fun.”

 

Q)  When we met, we talked about how covers sell books. The cover art coming out of Henery is every kind of eye-catching, captivating, and charming.  Who creates the art, and how do you fit the art to the book?

Why, thank you for the kind words! I absolutely believe the cover is essential to the book, everyone likes to see a pretty package. We consult with the author to get their take, then meet with the in-house staff to discuss. Once we have a concept, we’ll either design here or hire freelance – or both.

 

Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.
Just a few of the eye catching covers coming out of Henery.

 

Q)  What are the most challenging, and the most delightful aspects of your work?

The nuts and bolts of publishing can be the most challenging, probably because it’s not as much fun as engaging artwork and intriguing editorial. It’s also quite a challenge to find manuscripts – our catalog has limited space (about 2 books per month), and we’re building quite a niche in the mystery market. 

Q)  A good editor can help an author craft a decent manuscript into a great book.  How do help an author on the edge of greatness make that leap?

Agreed, an editor can see things the author can’t. Mostly because the author has read the manuscript about 113 times. I’d say the most useful tool in the box is remembering “less is more.” Truly, tighten, tighten, tighten. Keep the dialog snappy, the scenes vivid, and the narrative on point. And when if your beta readers all love your work, you need new betas.You need the beta who enjoys your writing, but dishes out the sharp critiques. Like you said, it’s turning decent into great.

 

LynDee's new book, due out on October 15, 2013.  In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.
LynDee’s new book, due out on October 15, 2013. In an upcoming interview with the author, LynDee will give you her take on the importance of having a great editor like Kendel.

 

Q)  How can an author make an editor’s job easier?

Don’t forgo the beta/editor stage when writing the second, third, fourth books. When you wrote your first, it probably went through 57 drafts, plus a multitude of critiques, contests, betas, and revisions. Over and over and over again until that baby sparkled. Now that you’ve sold it, and it’s published, and you’re onto the next, take the same care. Only more. Push yourself to be better, stronger. And that generally means better betas. (I’m sensing a theme…)

Q)  What advice would you give to aspiring editors?  Or people looking to break into publishing on the publishing house side of the industry?

Start freelancing. Even if you don’t get paid in the beginning, just to prove your work. Start with 50 page critiques, and move on from there. Read every writing book you can get your hands on, read lots of genres to understand techniques. Then grab an internship if you can find one. Nothing like learning from the inside.

Q)  What was your favorite book growing up?

Just one? I’m torn between A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot.

Lane, thank you so much for having me. It was a delight to meet you in person, and an honor to be featured on your blog!

Stay up to date with all the great books coming out of Henery Press.  Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; add them to your RSS Feed, and connect with them on LinkedIn.

Posted in books

When Dreams Come True


I asked LynDee, now a Top Selling author (upgraded from first-time author, y’all!), to rejoin us and talk about what it is like to have seen such major success in her freshman offering, Front Page Fatality.  I am so excited for her, and I hope you’ve already bought your copy because it is truly a great read.

LynDee's first novel--it's a top seller!  See below for buying links.
LynDee’s first novel–it’s a top seller! See below for buying links.

 

As I sit here wondering where the heck February and the first part of March went, I’m must say I’m reeling a bit, and ever so grateful for everything 2013 has brought. Even if it has been kind of a blur.

My eyes popped open early on January 29. Like a kid of her way to Disney World, I jolted myself out of sleep singsonging “it’s here, it’s here, the day has come!” in my head. For more years than I care to admit, I’ve daydreamed and real-dreamed about what my “book birthday” would be like. I’ve also studied and learned enough about the way book launches for debut authors with limited publicity budgets go, to have prepped myself to enjoy the day by having pretty modest expectations. As in, I’d been telling myself for weeks that if five people who’d never heard of me bought my book and liked it, I’d be very happy.

Little did I know, y’all. Oh, just how little.

My fantastic husband planned a lovely day for me: I signed preorders at the bookstore that hosted my launch party, we stopped downtown for lunch, and we even had date night.

By halfway through dinner, my book was number 41 on amazon.com’s hot new releases list in mysteries with women sleuths. At that time, I didn’t even know it was charting in humorous fiction. By Friday night, it had climbed to number one in new humor, number two (behind James Patterson) in new women sleuths, and number five in humor overall.

Can we say “head spinny?” I spent that whole weekend looking around for Rod Serling. Heck, it’s been seven weeks and I’m still looking! I haven’t seen him yet, though.

I did interviews on various blogs, one with my local ABC affiliate (I was so nervous. Lucky for me, the anchor was very nice and you can’t really tell I was nervous. Much.), and another last week with a newsmagazine. One book blog chose my book as their favorite of February, and another named it in the top 5 books of the week just this week. And I’ve gotten fan mail! Like, actual people I’ve never met have taken time out of their lives not only to read my novel, but to write me notes, telling me how much they enjoyed it. How awesome is that?

It’s been amazing. Like walking around in a dream, truly. Maybe a little overwhelming at times, but I’m just so honored and flabbergasted that people are saying such lovely things, it’s largely been one of the best months of my life.

All the while, I was trying to finish up my second Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels mystery, Buried Leads, and get it ready to send off to my editor. I loved getting to go back to Nichelle’s world and see how life is treating her, what has changed for her, and what kind of trouble she’s getting into now. Writing the sequel was like getting to know an old friend better, and I’m so, so glad I get to write more books about Nichelle and her friends, because I adore her and am still not ready to say goodbye to her.

Getting Buried Leads ready to turn in was an entirely new experience for me, though. I’d never written fiction with a deadline, and I’d also never have dreamed of sending a manuscript to an editor after one pass through my betas, two reads after the rough draft.

But I did. Then I started immediately on Nichelle’s Christmas adventure, a novella slated for publication this December.

Last week, I got my edit letter on Buried Leads. As usual, my editor is brilliant, and saw something I could change that will make it a much better book. It’s also a major revision, though, and I panicked a little, because I have other works under contract with deadlines.

Fortunately for me, this revision has fallen into place such that I’m scratching my head wondering why on Earth I didn’t think of this in the first place.

Truth be told, I love revising. I love digging into a book and strengthening the plot, tightening the writing, and punching up the dialogue. I love getting to spend more time with my imaginary friends. And though I admit to an initial freak-out, I love having an editor who can point to the precise thing that needs changing, say “fix this,” and send me down a merry path of new ideas that make all those things happen.

I am not good at working on two projects at once, so Christmas has been put on hold while I spiff Buried Leads up, but I’ll get back to it, hopefully with more knowledge of how to make it better and stronger. Writing is still my first love, and I can’t wait to see how Nichelle’s holiday ends up.

I have dreamed of being an author for so long, and living it these past seven weeks has been wonderful. Thank you so, so much, to everyone who has bought, read, and said lovely things about my novel. Y’all have made this an experience I will never forget, and you have no idea how much I appreciate every one of you.

 

FRONT PAGE FATALITY: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, Available Now)
BURIED LEADS: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, October 15, 2013)
THE HEARTACHE MOTEL: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press, December 10, 2013)
Get a signed copy and support a wonderful independent bookshop: Fountain Bookstore
Twitter: @LynDeeWalker
Facebook: LynDee Walker
Goodreads: LynDee Walker
Amazon author page: LynDee Walker

 

 

Posted in books, Friends of Mine

Front Page Fatality–an Interview with the Author, LynDee Walker


You may remember my Cousin-in-Law, LynDee Walker, from such hits as Women Worth Knowing: Meet LynDee, or What is Sexy: Part Two, or her parenting articles for The Examiner, but pretty soon she is going to stand out in your mind as one of Henery Press‘ premier authors.  Nothing could make me happier than to introduce you to LynDee as the author of the Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery Series.

Isn't that the cutest book cover ever?!
Isn’t that the cutest book cover ever?!

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. As Nichelle gets closer to the truth, her story gets more dangerous. Armed with a notebook, a hunch, and her favorite stilettos, Nichelle races to splash these shady dealings across the front page before this deadline becomes her last.

The first book of the series, Front Page Fatality, will be available to the public on January 29, 2013, but since I know the author *hair fluff* I got an advance copy to enjoy.  Now, I love spoilers, but I know most people don’t, so I won’t tell you ANYTHING about the story (because if I try, I’ll spill), but I will tell you this:  Front Page Fatality is a tightly written, interesting mystery that is fun to read because of how vibrantly and realistically Nichelle Clarke is written.  From the top of her head, to the soles of her Louboutin shod feet, Nichelle is personable, relatable, and exactly the kind of person you’d like to take out for Happy Hour.

Since I can’t do any real talking, I asked LynDee if she would.  I’m excited to bring you The Outside Lane’s first official interview with soon-to-be-best-selling author, LynDee Walker.

LynDee Walker
LynDee Walker

 

TOL: Welcome to The Outside Lane, LynDee!

LW:  Thanks for having me! I love your reviews, commentaries, and general attitude, and am very glad to be here!

 

TOL:  Get us started!  Tell us the story of how Front Page Fatality came out of your brain.

LW:  The first draft came out insanely fast. It took five weeks to finish. And it was super long and very messy. It all started with a scene that’s in the middle of the book and is a spoiler for the story, so I don’t want to say which one, but it pestered me for a few days and I thought putting it in the computer would make it go away. Instead, I got bitten by the fiction bug.

 

I think it was borne of a desperation to get back to some sort of writing, because after almost five years away from journalism–as a stay-at-home mom–I didn’t realize how much I missed just the act of putting down words until I started writing that scene. I also missed the newsroom. Ergo, a reporter heroine that gives me the ability to play in that world without the long hours away from my babies.

 

I went back to what I thought then was the beginning of the story and wrote through to that original scene, then wrote from there to the end. I pantsed it the whole way: the best description I have for you is that it was like watching a movie in my head and transcribing what was happening. I had no idea what was coming next, and wrote so manically because I wasn’t sure when or if it would stop.

 

As I wrote, I took chapters to my mom and my best girlfriend and they kept asking to see more, so I kept writing. But then there were literally years of revising and revamping the story to get it to what you see today. I think there are maybe five or six sentences in the entire book that have survived since the rough draft.

 

TOL:  That’s a lot of work.  What was the most difficult part of getting the story from your thoughts to the page?

LW:  Initially, it was finding time to do it fast enough with two small children and a part-time job. I knew nothing about writing fiction when I started, except that I got to use descriptive words and let people have opinions, so I just wrote.

 

When I began learning about good fiction writing and started revising, the most difficult parts were learning how to reveal a character in layers, and making sure the words conveyed the scene I had in my head to the reader (which is one of many reasons I adore my beta readers).

 

TOL:  The audience is always right!  But you’re used to an audience.  You are an award winning journalist, and journalists are required to get straight to the facts and tell a story in short order. How did that affect your novel writing style?

LW:  Adversely, at first, actually. I had so much fun getting to use all the flowery words I’d always been told were off-limits that the rough draft was way too long. But during revisions, I think my training came in handy by helping me pare out unnecessary words without affecting the story.  And my fantastic editor and I tightened the book even through the last round of copy edits. I think in the end, my journalism background made for a fast pace and a tight story.

 

TOL:  And your journalism background taught you how to write a tease, too.  What comes next for Nichelle?

LW: She’s getting herself into more trouble digging around in another murky story, and her relationship with Joey is heating up. And of course, she’s shoe shopping.

 

TOL:  I can’t wait!  But we’ve got another month before everyone else can read Nichelle’s adventures, and I’m going to have to wait a lot longer!  In the meantime, where else can we find your work?

LW:  I do local freelance articles in Richmond, and I also write a parenting column for examiner.com. (http://www.examiner.com/elementary-years-parenting-in-richmond/lyndee-walker).

 

TOL:  Thank you so much, LynDee!  I’ll be sure to keep The Outside Lane readers updated on how to get Front Page Fatality.

For more information about LynDee or the Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery Series, check out these links:

FRONT PAGE FATALITY: A Nichelle Clarke Headlines in Heels Mystery (Henery Press, January 29, 2013)
Twitter: @LynDeeWalker
Facebook: LynDee Walker
Goodreads: LynDee Walker
Amazon author page: LynDee Walker
Pre Order from B&N here
Pre Order from Amazaon here